NASA's 3D-Printed Mars Habitat Could Work on Earth With Cheap Plastic

Using low-emissions biomaterials.
Loukia Papadopoulos

Back in August 2018, we brought you the winning designs of NASA's 3D Printed Mars Habitat Contest. One of these was AI SpaceFactory's "Marsha" which was awarded $500,000 in the competition.

Despite humans not having reached Mars yet, AI SpaceFactory has not stopped working on its habitat and it has become quite technologically ingenious and useful for applications right here on Earth. 

"In Space architecture, every design decision is of great consequence to the success of a mission. Structures must be resilient and interior layouts must be tuned to mission demands," states the website for Marsha.

"And yet, since sustained social and mental health are also mission-critical, Space habitats must be designed to be rich, useful, and interesting worlds onto themselves. Marsha, AI SpaceFactory’s Mars habitat design, illustrates that the result can be both visionary and credible with an alien yet familiar beauty."

Let's explore the technology behind this almost-luxurious habitat. 

1. It's 3D printed

SpaceFactory combines innovations in robotics, control algorithms, materials, and design, to produce a state-of-the-art, full-service 3D printing construction service. This means printing the Marsha habited is less expensive, more sustainable, and safer than other constructions. It also means that it can easily be built on Mars using local materials. This is especially important to future Mars missions as we won't be able to carry with us all the materials we need to make residences.

Source: SpaceFactory

2. It uses construction robotics

SpaceFactory's 3D print technology makes use of telemetry/teleoperation, data analytics, machine perception, and intelligence for wider autonomous applications. This means that habitats on Mars will be able to build themselves without much human supervision. This is crucial as our first colonies to Mars are likely not to be very populated and consist of the few key scientists required to make the mission work.

Source: SpaceFactory

3. It's made from high-performance eco-materials

In space, SpaceFactory plans to use local material, but right here on Earth is uses natural and recycled composite materials which are stronger and more durable than concrete. This is done for the protection of our planet but also for the sturdiness of the habitats. It's a win-win for all.

Source: SpaceFactory

The habitat's interiors are lush and filled with space. One could imagine that they would belong to some luxurious eco-project. Looking at this project from the inside, it becomes very clear why NASA chose this as a winning option back in 2018. But will it be the one that populates future Mars colonies? Only time will tell.

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